Are You Not a Man of God?: Devotion, Betrayal, and Social Criticism in Jewish Tradition

Hardcover | March 7, 2014

byTova Hartman, Charlie Buckholtz

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Are You Not a Man of God? challenges the accepted readings of several iconic supporting characters from canonical stories of Jewish tradition. These characters have been appropriated throughout history to represent and reinforce central cultural values: the binding of Isaac and the religiousvalue of sacrificing relationship for a higher purpose; the biblical Hannah, appropriated by the rabbis as an archetype of the spirit and practice of prayer; the Talmudic Beruriah and the significance of women's learning and knowledge; and the struggle for intellectual autonomy of the rabbis of theTalmudic story known by its tag-line, "It is not in heaven!" Tova Hartman and Charlie Buckholtz make use of religious, psychological, philosophical and literary perspectives to bring these characters to life in their multiple incarnations, examining the varied symbolic uses to which they have beenput and their cultural impact.These are all texts that have been studied widely, and characters that are well known. This study shows, however, that the dominant interpretations have served to mask darker, more insightful, and ultimately more critical dimensions of these important figures. Hartman and Buckholtz discover mutedvoices of personal betrayal and criticism that resonate as damning social critiques of the rabbis themselves. These critiques often highlight the ways in which cultural authorities use, and abuse, their power, and the implications of these systemic moral failings for their legitimacy as communalleaders. In these voices of social criticism, the rabbis evince an awareness of their own vulnerability to such abuses and failings as well as their hurtful, marginalizing effects on members of less powerful social groups.

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Are You Not a Man of God? challenges the accepted readings of several iconic supporting characters from canonical stories of Jewish tradition. These characters have been appropriated throughout history to represent and reinforce central cultural values: the binding of Isaac and the religiousvalue of sacrificing relationship for a highe...

Tova Hartman is a professor of gender studies and education. She has written widely on the intersection of gender, religion, and education in scholarly journals and periodicals and is the author of Appropriately Subversive: Modern Mothers in Traditional Religions (2003) and Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism: Resistance and Acco...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:March 7, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199337438

ISBN - 13:9780199337439

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Table of Contents

IntroductionSupporting Characters, Opposing Voices: Reading for Devoted Resistance1. "But I Grieve for My Mother": The Betrayal of Iphigenia and Isaac2. "It is Not In Heaven!" and Other Hurtful Words: Circling the Snake Oven3. "Beruriah Said Well": The Many Lives (and Deaths) of a Talmudic Social Critic4. Are You Not a Man of God? Hannah, Hysteria, and the Roots of Jewish PrayerConclusionCanonical "Back-Talk": Supporting Characters as Social CriticsBibliographyIndexNotes